Sac City Makerspace Hosts Design Thinking Faculty PD Event!

By Michelle Zamora, SCC Makerspace Student Lead

Month three of “Making a Makerspace” and our space is finally beginning to feel like a living, breathing, functioning space. We’ve since installed a Hydroponic Zone, organized anything and everything, trained our staff on equipment, created forms, added content to our website, started jobs for clients, and welcomed students into our space.

As we work and grow, communicate and produce, we are learning how much we are using design thinking in this process. In addition to practicing it ourselves, we hosted a Design Thinking Workshop last week, and the results were nothing but positive.

Tom Cappelletti, Project Director of the SCC Makerspace and Missy Anapolsky, Sac City and Sac State Design Professor conducted a Design Thinking Workshop for faculty members from disciplines ranging from English and Fine Art to Engineering, Accounting, Math and Nursing. The workshop included the “flow” of Design Thinking, from empathizing and defining the problem to ideating and rapid prototyping. It was a controlled pandemonium!

Faculty members were given the prompt to design a new wallet for their partner. For many, it was an exercise in diving outside of their comfort zones at the risk of “asking the wrong questions” or feeling embarrassed about “not being creative.”

As Tom announced the start of the prototyping phase, I followed faculty members around with my phone, capturing smiling faces, laughter, and play. I asked one instructor, “When was the last time you played with construction paper?” He laughed and said, “I don’t think I ever have!” It was exciting to see our educators play and build, perhaps like they did when they were children.

Tom rang a large Tibetan bowl to keep time, and when it went off you could hear sighs in the room—“No’s!!!!” and “Not yets!” Everyone wanted more time. About twenty instructors, along with Tom and Missy, gathered around on bean bags to debrief.

After the faculty members placed their newly innovated, rapidly-prototyped wallets in the center of the room, an energized conversation about Design Thinking ensued. One instructor from Fine Arts noted how she hated the materials…but also loved them. She explained, “My students don’t always have access to a lot of things, so I like show them what they can do with very little.” Another commented on the time limit—he wanted more. Missy explained how the short amount of time to prototype was intentional, that it adds to producing the main idea of your new innovation, rather than creating a masterpiece.

It’s easy to get caught up in creating things that look perfect and usable right off the bat, but that’s not how things are created. At least not innovative new ideas, products, and services. Things start rough, then we iterate, ideate, grow, change, refine, get feedback (you know the drill by now).

All in all the workshop was a great success. After the workshop instructors felt inspired and motivated to include project based learning, design thinking, and collaboration in their curriculum—encouraged to send students to the Makerspace to collaborate, design, and prototype or periodically hold workshops in the Makerspace to utilize the space and equipment.

At the end of the workshop, an Engineering Instructor chimed in about how we measure student success, “I believe in diversity of assessments…we need to find new ways to assess students success.” A’s and B’s and out…failing is in. Through trial and error, we learn. By failing the first time, we iterate a better second time, and by the third time we’ve designed or built something that never would have existed if it weren’t for that first step.

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